• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Opinions about field safety?

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#1
So, I’m going to start this off by saying I’m a board member and drone chair for our RC club. I’ve been working to get drone racing and drone flight in general up and running for our club, with a dedicated area to fly drones as well as a course to fly through. It’s not much at the moment, but there’s interest in the club.

Well, today I had started flying my little TinyWhoop through our course, and some members came over and started observing. I threw them under my backup goggles and let them see what it was like. They were impressed, so I pulled out my 5” racing quad and said, “Let me show you something faster.”

I immediately warned them to keep back from this, because it was more dangerous and flew a lot faster; plus, as I specifically told them, “I’m flying a whirling blender. I don’t want you to get hurt, so please stand back behind me.”

I then punched up pretty quickly, and instantly heard some yelps of surprise and at least one person swearing mildly at how fast I was moving. I heard at least one person say, “He wasn’t kidding about that thing being potentially dangerous!” So, I figured they got the safety issues I had tried to instill in them.

After I got finished flying, I was called over to our fixed wing site, adjacent to the drone area where I was flying. I grabbed my stuff and walked over, listening to some issues of safety that had been raised for some gas airplanes that were flying near the freeway and out of bounds. I also talked to our heli chair about possible training and check offs that they go through for the new heli pilots; I figured this would be very similar, and I wanted his take on it for drones.

As we were having this discussion, I see 2 DJI Mavics go up in the air over the drone area. I get kind of excited, because I didn’t realize we had drone pilots at the field today, besides myself. So I walk over, and I start watching them.

One of the guys starts flying up, and gets a couple hundred feet up, his Mavic barely visible.

“I can’t see it! Anyone see it?”

Alarm bells start going off in my head. I look up and I see it - directly over the pit area where we’re all gathered, watching them fly. And then he starts descending.

“You need to push that thing back out over the field in front of us. You’re directly overhead.”

He keeps descending, until he’s no more than about 6-7 feet above our heads. Everyone except the pilots started clearing out from under it, and I, along with another board member, as well as the spectators, tell him, “You need to move it out so it’s not right over us.”

“We’re ok; the software won’t let me land. It knows we’re here.”

I kept my calm, but I was REALLY close to losing it. We again told him to pull it away from us, which he finally did.

I gave him a verbal warning, as well as the other board member, but I’m wondering if I should have used my clout as the drone chair and grounded him until he could demonstrate safe flying technique to me - and by safe flying technique, that he could disable the autopilot software and fly it away from us under his own control, without relying on the computer.

I’m all for more people flying quads, as well as people getting photographs and video of the area, but first and foremost, I want to keep us safe. I’m thinking that we need to have some stricter guidelines, as this is really a concern to me, especially given the safety points I had raised based on my racing quad and the out of bounds issue that was brought up not 10 minutes prior to this safety incident. Am I out of line for wanting to yell but not doing so, or should I have gone big to get the point across for the potential for someone to have had the quad fall on them?
 
#2
As a club officer your always better off to maintain your composure, rather than losing it. Pull the guy aside, talk to him about the incident, bring it up at the next meeting without naming names but as a lesson for everybody.
There is an inherent danger in nearly every aspect of our hobby, yelling at a guy who isn't in control while he is still in the air isn't going to help him at that specific moment. Give everybody the opportunity to save a little face until they have worn out the courtesy so to speak.
Certainly your club bylaws have some sort of disciplinary procedure to follow, and if they don't then that is what needs to be taken care of first, and if you do, then make sure they are followed in a concise manner and applied consistently and equally amongst all the members. But maintaining your composure through the process will gain you more respect in the end.

If you have a situation where there is a repeat offender then by all means, give him the boot, but your club should have policies and procedures in place to do that first.

Frankly speaking, the videos I watch of the Flite-Test events are not the best examples as ambassadors of safe flying...
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#3
As a club officer your always better off to maintain your composure, rather than losing it. Pull the guy aside, talk to him about the incident, bring it up at the next meeting without naming names but as a lesson for everybody.
There is an inherent danger in nearly every aspect of our hobby, yelling at a guy who isn't in control while he is still in the air isn't going to help him at that specific moment. Give everybody the opportunity to save a little face until they have worn out the courtesy so to speak.
Certainly your club bylaws have some sort of disciplinary procedure to follow, and if they don't then that is what needs to be taken care of first, and if you do, then make sure they are followed in a concise manner and applied consistently and equally amongst all the members. But maintaining your composure through the process will gain you more respect in the end.

If you have a situation where there is a repeat offender then by all means, give him the boot, but your club should have policies and procedures in place to do that first.

Frankly speaking, the videos I watch of the Flite-Test events are not the best examples as ambassadors of safe flying...
I agree that I need to keep my composure - it’s just the argument that “the software won’t let me get too close to people” was what got me twisted. I’ve seen too many incidents with “safety devices” that people think will keep them from doing stupid things, only to have it backfire.

He thought he was in control, and when we gave him reason to move, he acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I think that’s where I got bent out of shape internally, because it didn’t seem to be critical to him but it was critical to everyone else observing...the ire I had was fueled a lot by the fear that someone could get seriously injured, and he thought it wouldn’t happen because of safety measures built in.
 

Hondo76251

Well-known member
#4
Risk assessment and risk management. If you want 100% safety with no risk you have to stay at home and set on the couch (and, ironically, die an early death from a sedentary lifestyle)

I try not to be too cynical when I hear clubs discuss safety policies as I didn't exactly have a great first experience with the hobby with the first club I went to many years ago and I've sadly seen that same experience has been shared by many in the hobby.
Frankly, this hobby didn't really take off until the availability of cheap, simple electronics that people could fly outside of clubs. These things are much safer than the planes that used to be flown at these clubs that the rules were originally built for. (A 6' weed eater flying into a crowd is never a good thing) Risk assessment: A mavic has a very low chance of causing anyone harm, even in the event of catastrophic equipment failure. That being said, I totally understand that, in a structured environment like a club, the rules are not only for safety but to create some simple order so that all persons participating can engage and enjoy their time. So for the management of the risk, like @RustySocket said, no reason to make too big of a deal out of it. Sounds like you handled it well. Now if someone had come in and started flying over people with a race quad capable of 100 mph... that is another story!

I do tend to tend to take the safety aspect of this hobby lighter than some. My children race dirtbikes, ride horses, work cattle, operate machinery, and shoot guns. I've never seen the FliteTest guys do anything I thought looked unsafe. Sure, there is always the risk of getting a nip from a prop, even a stitch if its bad enough, and no one wants that, but the reality is that its a low risk of very minor injury overall in my opinion...
 

Hondo76251

Well-known member
#5
I agree that I need to keep my composure - it’s just the argument that “the software won’t let me get too close to people” was what got me twisted. I’ve seen too many incidents with “safety devices” that people think will keep them from doing stupid things, only to have it backfire.
THAT I can relate to. I do a lot of pretty high level training even now (old marines still like to get some) and we take range safety VERY seriously Again, risk assessment. A mavic will, at worst, give you a stitch or two, a 300 win mag will blow a hole through you, the car behind you, and the guy in the next car behind that.

If someone on the range pointed a gun, even an unloaded gun (the most dangerous kind) back at the rest of the firing line and said something so gut wrenchingly stupid as, "don't worry, its on safe" they would likely have it taken from them and be clubbed about the head and shoulders until their intelligence level increased...

So, like I said, you did the right thing, even if they were being a touch ignorant because, overall, the risk was low. Kind but firm is appropriate. If it was something more dangerous greater measures could be appropriate.
 
#6
I should have qualified my last statement a bit better...with the as the AMA code was originally written. I agree that with the majority of what is going on the risk is minimal with the lightweight foamies. 1/3 scale gasses are a different matter.
 
#7
I agree that I need to keep my composure - it’s just the argument that “the software won’t let me get too close to people” was what got me twisted. I’ve seen too many incidents with “safety devices” that people think will keep them from doing stupid things, only to have it backfire.

He thought he was in control, and when we gave him reason to move, he acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I think that’s where I got bent out of shape internally, because it didn’t seem to be critical to him but it was critical to everyone else observing...the ire I had was fueled a lot by the fear that someone could get seriously injured, and he thought it wouldn’t happen because of safety measures built in.
I think in that case then it could become a topic for the board to get together, establish some policies regarding some zero tolerance policies regarding the "safety software" and that violation of the no fly zone results in x. It just has to be applied consistently. It's not a burden that should be put on only one person.
 

cranialrectosis

Well-Known Member
Mentor
#8
Post the rules on signage and hang the signs on the rope you use to delineate the spectator area from the flight line and again between the parking area and the spectator area.

Be dis-passionate and enforce rules religiously, preferably as a group. Practice as a group so you have a plan and confidence in your plan and in your RSOs (range safety officers).

Posted: There is no safe software. There are no safe models. There are only safe people or reckless people. Reckless people will be removed from the property.

If someone on the range pointed a gun, even an unloaded gun (the most dangerous kind) back at the rest of the firing line and said something so gut wrenchingly stupid as, "don't worry, its on safe" they would likely have it taken from them and be clubbed about the head and shoulders until their intelligence level increased...
^^This.

At our range, rules are posted. RSOs work in groups and have a well rehearsed plan. We confront stupid in teams. One person engages the stupid, the others back him/her up and shut down the firing line so one stupid cannot distract all the RSOs and make the whole line dangerous.

When engaging stupid I know how my team will react. I know they have my back so I engage with confidence. That confidence and the tone of voice I have due to that confidence prevents escalations and resolves stupid, quickly/peacefully. As an RSO, I have used that tone. I have never had to draw my sidearm in 28 years as RSO.

IMO it is not me or my sidearm that keeps our range safe.

It is the plan, our confidence in our plan and in our peers that prevent escalations and keep us safe in the presence of stupid.
 

skymaster

Well-known member
#9
I have one question why are all air fields right beside a road. the one i go to there's a major road right on the side. one other thing if you are going to fly a drone i would like to know ahead of time of how many drone's are going to be flying just so i could be aware and also tell them not to fly were they are not allowed for safety and also to get to know the fella. friend's make great understanding people.
 
#10
I have one question why are all air fields right beside a road. the one i go to there's a major road right on the side. one other thing if you are going to fly a drone i would like to know ahead of time of how many drone's are going to be flying just so i could be aware and also tell them not to fly were they are not allowed for safety and also to get to know the fella. friend's make great understanding people.
Fields are hard to come by, expensive and generally involve a generous benefactor or landowner. Many were in places that were once rural and have now become suburb/urban.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#11
I have one question why are all air fields right beside a road. the one i go to there's a major road right on the side. one other thing if you are going to fly a drone i would like to know ahead of time of how many drone's are going to be flying just so i could be aware and also tell them not to fly were they are not allowed for safety and also to get to know the fella. friend's make great understanding people.
That's a good question, and at our field, it's answered like this:

"Welcome to our flying field! Since you've never flown here, let's give you an orientation. We have our fence here that leads up to the pit area, separating the parking area from the pit area. Then there's another fence that separates the run-up tables from the pilot's box and the runway/taxi area. On the far left of the field, about 150 feet past the end of our 600 foot runway, is a hill that slopes sharply down to the freeway. We have flags out there to delineate the 'no-fly' zone. DO NOT FLY PAST THAT AREA; that's where the freeway is. In front of us and to the right of the runway is the area affectionately called 'The Jungle'. It's better to fly over that area if you're going to be flying out from the runway, as it's full of nature, marshy, and no humans/homes are down in that area. However, if your plane goes down in that region, you won't necessarily want to go in there, as it's full of poison oak, burrs, and during the summer, rattlesnakes. People can easily get lost in there, so just be aware of that - we don't want you dying out there. Let someone know, take a cell phone, and if you can, take someone with you if you're going in to retrieve a plane. Or, if you can't see it easily, chalk it up as a lost cause - we don't want you falling and getting hurt, caught, etc.

Just to the left of the pit area, you'll see a little sunken dip area - that's where guys will practice 3D foamie maneuvers. Feel free to fly foamies there, but don't fly over the parking lot or the road to the heli field.

To the right of the parking lot, we have our drone course and drone flying area. Feel free to fly there, all the way out to the tree line. There's a dirt road that you can see if you fly FPV, and we try to use that and the tree line as our boundaries for drone flight.

In addition to the freeway 'no-fly' zone, we do NOT fly over the parking lot, pit area, pilot's box, cars/people, or roads in and out of the field. Doing so will get you a reprimand, and potentially grounded from flying for a period of time."

We also do a flight check, just to make sure that people can fly ok, and know the basic rules (like calling out takeoffs and landings, touch n' go maneuvers, etc.) and can reasonably control their aircraft. We want people to have fun, but we want everyone to be safe at the same time. I know we can't expect 100% safety from everything, but we can certainly minimize it with following the rules of the field. It may be time for us to take an image from Google's satellite photos and mark it out to say, "Here's the no-fly zones, here's the heli/fixed wing/drone areas," to be more clear with what's going on and where we can and can't fly, especially considering suburbia is starting to pop up just to the north of our field.
 
#12
That's a good question, and at our field, it's answered like this:

"Welcome to our flying field! Since you've never flown here, let's give you an orientation. We have our fence here that leads up to the pit area, separating the parking area from the pit area. Then there's another fence that separates the run-up tables from the pilot's box and the runway/taxi area. On the far left of the field, about 150 feet past the end of our 600 foot runway, is a hill that slopes sharply down to the freeway. We have flags out there to delineate the 'no-fly' zone. DO NOT FLY PAST THAT AREA; that's where the freeway is. In front of us and to the right of the runway is the area affectionately called 'The Jungle'. It's better to fly over that area if you're going to be flying out from the runway, as it's full of nature, marshy, and no humans/homes are down in that area. However, if your plane goes down in that region, you won't necessarily want to go in there, as it's full of poison oak, burrs, and during the summer, rattlesnakes. People can easily get lost in there, so just be aware of that - we don't want you dying out there. Let someone know, take a cell phone, and if you can, take someone with you if you're going in to retrieve a plane. Or, if you can't see it easily, chalk it up as a lost cause - we don't want you falling and getting hurt, caught, etc.

Just to the left of the pit area, you'll see a little sunken dip area - that's where guys will practice 3D foamie maneuvers. Feel free to fly foamies there, but don't fly over the parking lot or the road to the heli field.

To the right of the parking lot, we have our drone course and drone flying area. Feel free to fly there, all the way out to the tree line. There's a dirt road that you can see if you fly FPV, and we try to use that and the tree line as our boundaries for drone flight.

In addition to the freeway 'no-fly' zone, we do NOT fly over the parking lot, pit area, pilot's box, cars/people, or roads in and out of the field. Doing so will get you a reprimand, and potentially grounded from flying for a period of time."

We also do a flight check, just to make sure that people can fly ok, and know the basic rules (like calling out takeoffs and landings, touch n' go maneuvers, etc.) and can reasonably control their aircraft. We want people to have fun, but we want everyone to be safe at the same time. I know we can't expect 100% safety from everything, but we can certainly minimize it with following the rules of the field. It may be time for us to take an image from Google's satellite photos and mark it out to say, "Here's the no-fly zones, here's the heli/fixed wing/drone areas," to be more clear with what's going on and where we can and can't fly, especially considering suburbia is starting to pop up just to the north of our field.
Sounds like you guys have a nice field.

Maybe implement a random Q&A session for the new members... Where do drones belong? Where's the no fly? Who is responsible for Donuts? Pop quiz to make sure all is understood. Your on the right track.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#13
Sounds like you guys have a nice field.

Maybe implement a random Q&A session for the new members... Where do drones belong? Where's the no fly? Who is responsible for Donuts? Pop quiz to make sure all is understood. Your on the right track.
It is a very nice field. :) We've got a nice long runway, we have our separate areas for people to fly all kinds of different vehicles without interfering with other types of flight, and we want to keep it that way for as long as we can - although, we realistically know that it's going to be going away within a few years due to homes being built across the freeway, just to the northeast of our field, and a college extension about 1/2 mi. north of us, and plans for a strip mall have been drawn up right where our field currently resides.

That said, we want to keep ourselves as amiable to the public as possible - we want to be able to find our own field and not have people complaining that we're um...well, let's go with 'donkey sphincters" LOL - flying drones over their heads.